Beltane has been around, in some form, for the best part of a decade. During all that time, we have worked with Edinburgh’s universities to develop university cultures which support public engagement with research: offering training, getting public engagement included in promotions criteria, creating ready-made opportunities to engage with members of the public, and more. A lot of our work is behind the scenes, meaning people don’t always know what we do!
We’ve helped bring about culture change by developing a particular approach: Meet, Learn, Try, Reflect, Share and Celebrate.
Our core areas of work
Innovative, large-scale public engagement activities
We currently organise public engagement events like Explorathon Edinburgh and the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas. These activities are too labour-intensive and (arguably) too risky to be undertaken by a single university public engagement office.
The Beltane core team, based at the University of Edinburgh, leads on the organisation of these activities, but key public engagement contacts at each of our Edinburgh partner universities recruit researchers and take responsibility for elements of the events.
If you would like to feature on one of our public engagement ‘platforms’, please get in touch!
An ongoing programme of training and development activities
These include Beltane Breakfasts and Twilights, public engagement training and Beltane Fellowships. You will always receive a warm welcome (and probably food) at Beltane-badged networking events, and we love to see new faces! We do our best to make sure our training is high quality, innovative and relevant.
All Beltane-badged training and development activities are open to staff and students from universities in Edinburgh. Depending on the topic, we often encourage individuals from other organisations (and none) to attend as well.
Establishing the state-of-the-art in public engagement with research
Beltane’s core staff are partners on the NUCLEUS project, a four-year, Horizon 2020 project investigating how to make Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) a reality in universities and research institutions. The aim is to share this knowledge throughout the wider Beltane Network.
Teaching about public engagement, primarily on degree-level courses
Beltane core staff (primarily, Heather Rea) teach on the STEAM Summer School, the MSc in Science Communication at the University of Edinburgh, and deliver some NCCPE training courses.
Acting as a central contact point for public engagement for the University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh has a huge number of staff with some responsibility for public engagement with research (usually, alongside many other things!). The core Beltane team acts as a central liaison, ensuring, where possible, that best practice and learning are shared.
Two of our partner universities have their own dedicated central contact points for public engagement with research:
The core Beltane staff work very closely with these people, and they are part of Beltane too, delivering some of their activities under the Beltane brand.
Things Beltane Currently Does Not Do
We always want to be helpful, but we also don’t want to disappoint. With that in mind, here are some of the things you won’t currently see offered under the Beltane brand:
- Training or public engagement activity for the benefit of a single partner university
- Help to design specific public engagement activities in any detail, or help them to deliver these activities, unless they are part of one of Beltane’s own public engagement initiatives
- Offer funding for public engagement activities, except those which the core team leads